Japan’s door to asylum seekers remains ajar as ever with only a handful accepted in 2016 in spite of more than 10,000 applications, a record, according to the Justice Ministry.

Preliminary figures released by the ministry Feb. 10 showed that 28 applicants were recognized as refugees last year, up from 27 in 2015.

Afghans topped the list with seven, followed by four Ethiopians and three Eritreans.

“Most people simply cannot justify their grounds for applying for refugee status,” said a ministry official.

In contrast, the number of applications seeking asylum in Japan stood at 10,901 last year, the first time that the 10,000 mark has been crossed, the ministry said. The figure is up from 7,586 in 2015 and a new high for the sixth straight year.

By country, Indonesia had the most applicants, at 1,829, followed by 1,451 Nepalese and 1,412 Filipinos.

The ministry said the figure is growing year after year as applicants are allowed to work in Japan six months after they file for official refugee status, so long as they have a temporary visa to stay or other documentation to remain in Japan. This became possible after the ministry revamped its regulations.

In addition, it has been customary for Japanese authorities not to deport asylum seeks while their applications are examined.

The ministry said the decision to award official refugee status is based on whether asylum seekers fled their country due to persecution based on ethnicity or religion. It added that this is in line with an international convention on the status of refugees.

Ninety-seven foreign nationals were permitted to stay in Japan for humanitarian reasons, up from 79 the previous year, according to the ministry.